|Susan Tordella <email@example.com>||Thu, May 9, 2:14 PM (6 days ago)|
Buried in the House version of Gov. Baker’s budget is a requirement to keep all existing corrections facilities open in the next fiscal year.
The Mass DOC [Department of Corrections] headcount is down by nearly one-fourth since 2010, when the DOC reported 11,429 in their care, compared to the latest headcount of 8,700. The DOC and/or corrections officers union must be anticipating a logical proposal to close one or more prisons.
THE ASK: Please contact your state representative and senator to bring to their attention this scurilous requirement to block the closure of prisons. It’s important for both sides of the Statehouse to be aware of this because it re-emerge in the Conference Committee, when three representatives and three senators work out a compromise between the two versions of the budget.
Closing prisons makes sense, economically and for the health of incarcerated people. The two oldest facilities, Norfolk and Concord, were built in the 1800s, and Norfolk has notorious problems with mold and clean water.
If there’s going to be a decision made about closing prisons, we demand that it be made through a public discussion and democratic process.
Find your state rep and senator HERE, then save the information in your phone or computer for future contact. Feel free to copy and paste any part of this alert.
In addition to closing prisons, the DOC needs to transition more people to lower security levels, which is more economical. The higher the security level, the more expensive the staff expenditures. A lower security environment gives incarcerated people a better transition to freedom, and the opportunity to work in the community. The Council of State Government 2017 report recommended the DOC assign more people to minimum security prisons.
We conjecture that the DOC and/or possibly the corrections officers union may be behind this back-room maneuver, for many reasons. A mandate to keep all facilities open could possibly be: to maintain job security; to avoid the massive effort required to close a prison and re-assign people; and from the DOC perspective, for the security and safety of staff and those incarcerated. “Security” is the standard shield the DOC hides behind to avoid changes and improvements.
To see this in print, go to:House Version of Gov. Baker’s Budget, page 148, line 8900-0001 states:”For the operation of the department of correction, … [go to LINE 8]provided futher, that correctional facilities that were active in fiscal year 2019 shall remain open in fiscal year 2020 to maximize bed capacity and re-entry capability.”
The DOC is asking for $677,073,942 to run the DOC in FY 2020, a number that goes up exponentially every year.
We must hold the DOC accountable to: make open decisions about prison closures; spend wisely; offer more programs; and to classify as many people in their care to minimum security institutions.